Matcha is one of those ubiquitous food-blogger type fad ingredients that has long graced our web browsers and Instagram feeds in the form of popsicles, pancakes, cheesecakes and blended almond-milk lattes. That said, I will happily admit to being late to the game on this one, but in my defense I have a couple of formidable reasons for the tardiness;
- I generally dislike plain green tea with a passion. Matcha is essentially powdered green tea, so I’d always thought “thanks, but no thanks”.
- Even if I were to ignore my aforementioned aversion in the name of experimentation, matcha has until recently been pretty difficult to find in Bahrain.
Things changed late last year when I took a trip to Malaysia and was introduced to the wonder that is an iced soy matcha frappe. I made it my business to acquire some pronto, and managed to find it at a local health food store (which has since discontinued it, unfortunately, but more on where to find it later).
I was wary at first, unsure what to expect of this mystical powdered green substance that smelled alarmingly (and unsurprisingly) like my nemesis.
It took a fair amount of trial and error, but I’m proud to say I am finally a matcha believer, and it now features regularly in my morning green smoothies.
Some quick facts:
- Matcha is an antioxidant powerhouse. According to a study conducted at Tufts University, the ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) rating for matcha green tea is over twenty times more than that of pomegranates, blueberries and spinach.
- Catechins galore. Green tea contains a set of organic compounds referred to as catechins, which are the most potent and beneficial of antioxidants. Matcha is rich in a specific catechin called (say it with me folks) epigallocatechin gallate (EGCg), an antioxidant most widely recognised for its cancer fighting properties.
- It’s an energy booster. While all green tea naturally contains caffeine, matcha has unique energising properties on account of its unique combination of other nutrients including Potassium, Vitamins A & C, Iron, Protein, and Calcium. It’s often cited as a “cleaner” alternative to coffee, as it does not bring on as many undesirable side effects (I tend to disagree slightly, more on this later).
- A natural metabolism booster and detoxifier. While I am skeptical, as always, of any foods that act as a natural weight-loss aid, green tea and matcha alike are often cited as metabolism boosters that help the body burn fat. Matcha also extremely rich in chlorophyll (due to the way it is harvested and stored) which makes it a powerful detoxifier helping to rid the body of heavy metals and chemical toxins.
Sold yet? If the above “matcha-pedia” didn’t work, then perhaps this recipe will.
- 2 cups coconut water
- 1 heaping cup of baby spinach
- 2 frozen bananas
- 1 cup of additional frozen fruit of choice ( I find mango pineapple, and peaches work best)
- 1 tsp matcha green tea powder
- ½ a ripe avocado (optional)
- 2 tbsp chia seeds (optional)
- Combine ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend until smooth.
- If using a conventional blender, I recommend blending the spinach, coconut water, chia seeds and matcha before adding in the fruit for a second round.
Some rather important notes:
- If you are sensitive to caffeine like I am, or if you are still getting accustomed to the rather potent matcha flavour, start small and work your way up in terms of dosage. Start with 1/4 tsp per serving and work your way up.
- There is such a thing as too much matcha, so watch your intake. Because I love the flavour, I was having 1-1/2 tsp in my morning smoothies regularly a few months ago. Initially this worked great as it powered me through a few weeks of non-stop business trips, but I ended up paying the price with an incessant eye-twitch that lasted an entire month. No joke.
- Use this “recipe” as a base and customise as desired. I often use almond milk in place of coconut water, add in a cucumber or a small knob of raw broccoli, switch out chia for flaxseed etc.
- I pick up some matcha whenever I’m in Dubai from the Organic Foods and Cafe, but you can also order it online from iherb.com at decent prices including worldwide shipping.
My all-time favourite combination is what I call a matcha-colada, comprising of baby spinach, coconut water, avocado, cucumber, banana, frozen pineapples and of course matcha. Hydrating, refreshing, and reminiscent of a beach holiday.
While I admittedly haven’t been having too many green smoothies this Ramadan, this one is perfect for Suhoor or even a post iftar-treat.
In other news, although it hasn’t exactly worked in the past I am determined to stick to a schedule to bring you guys regular recipes and posts on a weekly basis. From now on you can expect new recipe posts every Sunday and a new lifestyle post every Wednesday. Until then, dear readers!